We Should Cheer the Pig-to-Human Heart Transplant

POLITICS & POLICY
(stefanamer/iStock/Getty Images)

This is an amazing potential advance in organ transplant medicine. A pig’s heart — genetically modified to not be rejected as readily — has been transplanted into a dying human patient. From the AP story:

The Maryland surgeons used a heart from a pig that had undergone gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that’s responsible for that hyper-fast organ rejection. Several biotech companies are developing pig organs for human transplant; the one used for Friday’s operation came from Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics.

“I think you can characterize it as a watershed event,” Dr. David Klassen, UNOS’ chief medical officer, said of the Maryland transplant.

Still, Klassen cautioned that it’s only a first tentative step into exploring whether this time around, xenotransplantation might finally work.

The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees such experiments, allowed the surgery under what’s called a “compassionate use” emergency authorization, available when a patient with a life-threatening condition has no other options.

That’s all well and good — and we should all support the concept of xenotransplantation. If we can use animal organs instead of human, the organ queue will shorten dramatically, and pressure to open unethical approaches — such as conjoining euthanasia and organ harvesting, doing away with the dead-donor rule, or flying to China to buy an organ strip-mined from a killed Falun Gong member — will abate.

But: There is a potential problem not mentioned in the AP story. What if a porcine virus crosses the species barrier because of this surgery, and a disease is loosed for which we have no immune resistance? That is one of the safety issues that will bear careful watching.

That point aside, we should all cheer. I can’t think of any reason to oppose this approach — assuming safety and efficacy — unless one is an animal-rights believer who thinks that pigs have equal value to humans. But they don’t. A rat is not a pig, is not a dog, is not a boy. Indeed, this field of medicine demonstrates the ethical urgency of pursuing the grim good of animal research in furthering medical advances.

You Might Like

Articles You May Like

Our very existence is a miracle gift from God: Survival, premonition, rebirth and the coming defeat of Satan and all his minions across pharma, tech and media
Boris Johnson ends England’s COVID restrictions, including mask mandates and vaccine passports, amid scandal
When asked about why Hollywood lectures Americans about politics, Goldie Hawn explains: ‘I stay in my lane’
Here’s How We Know the Left Wants All Kids to Be LGBTQ
Caitlyn Jenner opposes biological males competing in women’s sports, says the ‘woke world that we’re living in right now is not working’

Leave a Comment - No Links Allowed:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *